A few months ago, the planned 7 line station at 41st St. and 10th Ave. had been read its last rites. The city — picking up the tab for the entire $2.1 billion extension — did not want to pay the additional $500 million this station would cost, and although it would be a vital part to the future of the West Side, the MTA was no in position to fund it either. Today, though, Mayor Michael Bloomber, under pressure from the Real Estate Board of New York, announced a simple engineering solution that will keep the possibility of a station alive, the project on time and costs relatively under control.
As The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Howard Saul reports, Bloomberg said he believes that plans for a station sometime in the future can be built into the project. He is now requesting federal funds to confirm the initial engineering reports, and when money is flowing again, either the MTA or the city can begin to right this wrong. “We need engineers to confirm that it’s viable, but we’re confident we’ve found a way to keep the prospect of a future Tenth Avenue station alive without delaying the current extension,” Bloomberg said.
The city is now applying for $3 million in federal TIGER II grants that will confirm that a redesigned station could be built after the extension is completed and if sufficient funds become available. As Saul writes:
Under the new design proposal, the new station would be built with two entrances and two separate platforms – one for eastbound and one for westbound trains. The MTA prefers now to build subways where passengers can enter at any point, no matter what direction they’re headed. But officials said the compromise preserves the option of the second station, allowing it to be built at later date without interrupting service.
Basically, the original station schematics had called for an island station as the 7 line current enjoys at the other Manhattan stops. Instead, the MTA would design the stop at 41st and 10th so that the stations are on the outside of the tracks similar to, say, 50th St. along the 1 train. That way, construction on the station could proceed without disruption to the train line as is happening on the uptown tracks at Bleecker St. right now. The solution is so simple it’s astounding it had not been proposed before.
With this initial victory in its pocket, REBNY officials say they will continue to work to identify funding sources for the station. A real estate tax would easily generate the $550 million needed to build it, but I doubt the lobbying organization would readily embrace that idea. “We recognize that funding for the full project is a goal we will need to work on collaboratively in the months ahead. And be assured that REBNY will continue toward that objective,” Mary Ann Tighe, REBNY’s CEO and chairman, said. “But without this action, and without this redesign, there would not even be hope that a station could be built. Now the residents and businesses located in this area, and those still to come to the Far West Side, will know that a station is still possible.”
In thanking the politicians involved in this process, REBNY President Steve Spinola gave a nod toward the residents, many of whom do not actually want this station at 41st St. and 10th Ave. anyway. “This funding is an important first step in fulfilling the promise made to thousands of residents and businesses who moved to the Far West Side because they believed they would have convenient transportation built in the near future,” he said. “We owe it to the community to continue pushing for funding to make the station a reality.”
Without commenting on the sheer obviousness of the engineering solution, in its statement, the MTA stressed a commitment toward wrapping up construction by the end of 2013. “”The MTA is fully supportive of the Mayor’s proposal to seek federal funding to study the viability of building out a Tenth Avenue station in the future,” the authority said. “While neither the City or MTA can fund the station due to financial constraints, we should not preclude the possibility of a station in the future. We will continue to work together to complete the extension of the 7 line on time and on budget.”